Jun 7, 2018

QK Agent Round: Canary Girl

Title: Locusts
Entry Nickname: Canary Girl
Word Count: 90,000
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Thriller


While locusts ravage the Earth, seventeen-year-old science-prodigy Nila is plagued by her father's suicide. Art therapy is helping to heal her trauma, as well as inspiring a passion for graffiti, but she’s not the only one affected by his death. When he died, the formula for his revolutionary pesticide was lost with him, along with all hope of controlling the swarms devastating crops on every continent except North America, pushing life on Earth toward the brink of extinction.

Under pressure from her pushy workaholic mom, and compelled by a sense of obligation, Nila puts aside her artistic dreams to pursue a career in science, even though the thought of following in her father’s footsteps fills her with increasing dread. After she wins a prestigious science award, Nila is given a job at Columbus Innovations, working alongside her mom on her father’s pesticide.

Faced with the horrors of the animal-testing lab, Nila discovers proof that her father poisoned himself with his own pesticide. Convinced it never worked, Nila gives up and defies her mom to become a graffiti artist. As their relationship deteriorates, Nila spirals out of control, joining an animal rights group and setting the test-subject animals free.

But when the group unwittingly unleash a whole new breed of flesh-eating locusts in Boston, Nila must come clean, heal her relationship with her mom and combine her creative and scientific abilities to finally complete her father’s work and defeat the mutant swarm.

LOCUSTS is a 90,000-word YA sci-fi thriller set in Boston. In 2017, LOCUSTS was shortlisted for the Flash 500 Novel Award and longlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize, the MsLexia Novel Award and the Yeovil Literary Novel Prize. I was also accepted onto round three of #AuthorMentorMatch with this manuscript. This year, LOCUSTS has been chosen to take part in #QueryKombat.

First 250:

The last time I made my father’s chest swell with pride, I was almost four years old. He had gathered the greatest minds from across the world to resolve the locust problem spreading across Africa and Eurasia, and I was to be the evening’s entertainment.

As he lifted me onto the head table, the university’s Great Hall fell silent except for a growing chorus of tinkling glass. With my dark curls pinned tight to my scalp, I clutched the skirt of my canary-yellow dress and recited the periodic table. In Spanish and English. Pausing only to carefully form my mouth around the desconocidos, I made sure I didn’t trip over a single one.

When I had finished, strangers spun me in the air and called me my father’s daughter.

It made me feel something then—as though at any moment I would burst in an explosion of feathers and emerge a tiny yellow bird, fluttering high up in the rafters.

“Nila!” Mom hisses from offstage, jarring me from my thoughts.

I try to grasp hold of the memory again, but it’s gone. My chest is an empty cage. Only the echoes of that little bird’s song are left, no matter how hard I try. As I prepare for the curtains to go up and the International Young Scientist of the Year to be announced, the blazing heat of the stage lights scorches the air dry, so that every breath burns me up from the inside out.


  1. Wild Card! I would love to take a look at the full. Please feel free to send it along as a word document to andrea@harveyklinger.com with QueryKombat in the subject line. Thanks! - Andrea Somberg/Harvey Klinger Inc.

  2. I'd love to see more! Please email the query and first 50 pages (as a word attachment) to querydanielle@nelsonagency.com with the subject line Query Kombat Requested Materials.

  3. I'd love to take a look at this - feel free to send to ashane@writershouse.com.

    - Alec

  4. I'd like to see more, too! Please send your query and pages to Jennifer@theseymouragency.com, and mention Query Kombat and your title in the subject!